On December 28th, I was super excited as I drove my car to meet Michele…
Typical for mid-summer in Maryland, the weather was HOT, HUMID and UNPLEASANT as we started down the trail for the 27th hike of “A Year of Hikes: 52 Weeks, 52 Women, Same Trail.” Luckily for me, my hiking companion for the week, Rose Meagher, distracted me from the heat with her words of wisdom and “homespun” stories (more on that later.)
The black-eyed susan, bee balm, milkweed, and wild daisy were shimmering in the heat as we crossed the field toward the woods. We stopped to admire the lovely red berries on a shrub with dark green leaves, which I’m guessing was Red Chokeberry. It seems amazing that these fragile flowers and plants can survive and thrive day after day in 90-degree heat. Makes me feel like I have no right to complain. But hey, that’s never stopped me before!
Despite using lots of bug spray, we were assaulted by gnats buzzing around our heads the entire hike. I’m thinking of making little ear coverings out of old panty hose to keep those tiny boogers from bothering me on future hikes! Rose, no doubt, could design and create something for the same purpose that would be absolutely beautiful and far more effective. You see, Rose is a textile crafter/ textile artisan. I was, and still am, totally amazed by her talent. She crochets, knits, spins her own yarn, sews, weaves, felts, embroiders…you name it, if it involves wool, yarn or fabric of any kind…Rose has used it in pursuit of her passion.
Of course, as we walked down the rocky trail, I asked about her favorite project(s). She hemmed and hawed but finally told me, only because I pleaded, that she was particularly proud of knitting a cover which she used to reupholster a chair. I couldn’t imagine the final project, but then she showed me a picture. All I can say is… “Mind Blown!” Rose is one talented lady, and the chair is gorgeous!
There weren’t many wildflowers along the trail but there were lots of different kinds of mushrooms, fungi and toadstools. Rose and I discussed edible vs nonedible mushroom, which was a short conversation because neither of us is knowledgeable. But that lead to a conversation about baking, something which we both know a lot about. We are bakers! During COVID, Rose took a course on sour dough breads and now makes three different kinds of delicious bread. I bake pies, good pies, if I do say so myself. In fact, I’ve been told that making pies is my only true talent. I know that it was meant as a compliment, but hey, I’m pretty sure there’s at least one other thing I’m good at.
Trying to distract us from the sweat running down our backs, I returned to the topic of Rose’s art. Rose explained that for her, the creative process in more engaging than the final product is rewarding. Depending on the day, working on her loom or knitting machine can be intellectually challenging, calming or a useful way of process life events and emotions. Several years ago, Rose felt many things were beyond her control. She felt angry…lots of anger. As Rose said, “I was seeing red!” So, she gathered up all different shades of red yarn and began weaving a piece of red cloth, telling herself that when the red yarn was gone, she would let her anger go as well. The best part of the story is that Rose turned that fabric into a beautiful red cape, which she still wears to this day. It is a reminder that feelings are fleeting and that she has control over her negative emotions and the power to let them go. I thought of the strength it takes to consciously exercise this power as I took the photo of her striking the “strong woman” pose.
Down by the stream at Warner Hollow, Rose and I took a little break. After all it was HOT! We drank some water, told stories and bonded over shared habits and qualities. To our husbands, we are both seekers, two women always looking for answers, discovering better ways to do what we’ve always done and searching to find common ground wherever possible. We both hate to throw things out, always have a project to work on in the car, love to repurpose things and though, I’m not up to Rose’s ability, we both enjoy DYI home projects.
The stream was lovely, but we couldn’t stay there forever so up the hill we went. As we climbed, we discovered another thing that we and all too many have in common: family members struggling to cope with and heal from alcoholism. Whether it is our adult children, siblings, or parents who are dealing with addiction, we agreed that we have to recognize it is their journey. It is their life to live, not ours. We can love them, support them and encourage them but that is all…the rest is up to them.
Walking down the trail, we caught up with a 12-year-old girl who seemed to be hiking alone, which at first was a little concerning. She explained that she was with a group from a Quaker Camp, but that the members were stretched out along the trail. We stayed with her and chatted until we caught up with some of her fellow campers. After we bid her farewell, we heard a strange squeaking sound and the leaf litter on the side of the trail began to quiver and shake…what in the world? It turns out it was a mole fight! It could have been mole gangs fighting over territory, for all I know! It wasn’t quite West Side Story, but we did see a little dark gray mole pop out from the underbrush and run for his life.
As we approached the end of the trail, the Quaker campers were sitting in the shade waiting for the stragglers. I said, “Oh we caught up with the Quakers.” One of the kids was shocked and asked in all honesty, “How did you know? Are we giving off some sort of Quaker vibe?” Oh, how we laughed when the little girl explained that we had talked earlier. A big belly laugh was a great way to end the hike with my newfound friend, who inspires me with her talent and wisdom. Thanks, Rose!